Thursday, November 18, 2010

Juan José Saer: The Sixty-Five Years of Washington

Abigail B. Lind reviews Juan José Saer's The Sixty-Five Years of Washington.
Given its lofty historical and ontological concerns, it is easy to forget that “The Sixty-Five Years of Washington” is ultimately a travel narrative: a morning’s journey of 21 blocks. Saer punctuates his characters’ musings with descriptions of Santa Fe, and he fixates on a conception of “the city not as though it were divided into neighborhoods or sections, but rather into territories in the animal sense, an archaic and violent demarcation of ritual, bloody defense.” Yet Saer seems more interested in the social fragmentation of national trauma than in its geographical repercussions. In his Argentina, people are isolated from each other, and they are lucky if their experiences overlap enough to chat about Washington Noriega’s birthday last weekend. That may be the case, but it’s fortunate that this last novel affords one last chance to glimpse Saer’s distorted and provocative inner world.
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